Thursday, January 5, 2012

Today's Walkergate questions and connections

Hilarious to see tightie-righties try to say "Nothing to see here" with today's felony embezzlement charges against Tim Russell, a former top aide to Scott Walker in Milwaukee County, and later Scotty's Housing Administrator, as well as another 2 brought up on felony charges as part of the John Doe probe. Sure, Walker isn't guilty of any of the stealing from Veterans' Groups, and he certainly has no part in Russell's gay partner getting flagged for trying to get 17-year-old boys to go inside his van, but there are definitely interesting connections.

If you read the complaint against Russell, you'll notice that most of the thefts were taken from the Heritage Guard Preservation Society. What's that? Well, it helped handle a Milwaukee County veterans' event at the Milwaukee County Zoo called "Operation Freedom," and how Tim Russell landed a gig handling its finances goes straight to Walker.
Due to alleged financial mismanagement, in about 2009, Operation Freedom donations were entrusted to the Alonzo Cudworth American Legion Post. While by all reports thge Cudworth Post discharged their financial duties in exemplary fashion, in October 2009, then County Executive Scott Walker transferred the Operation Freedom funds - some $19,000 - to HGPS, the corporation controlled by [Walker's then- Deputy Chief of Staff] Tim Russell.
And interestingly, Russell had set up bank account in HGPS' name 2 months before Walker's proclamation, and named two Milwaukee County Walker employees as 2nd and 3rd in command- Darlene Wink and James Tetjen (hilariously, both of them say they have no idea what this organization was and never attended any of its meetings). Amazing this new "community" organization was being run by a bunch of Walker lackeys, huh?

Now this is where you need to stop and put on your memory caps and put things together. Who is Darlene Wink? She's Walker's former Constituent Services Coordinator (Tim Russell's old job) who quit in May 2010 when it was revealed she was posting pro-Walker comments on blogs as part of her job, and John Doe investigators took her work computer as evidence, as they did with Russell. And among the expenses listed in Russell's criminal complaint? A series of trascations to to register in 2010, which Capper noted was an Astroturf Walker campaign site that magically stopped running after the election. And oh yeah, Capper also untangeled their connections to a certain rally at a Milwaukee County Park (under Walker's jurisdiction) in 2009.
To summarize this whole thing, we know that there was a Koch-funded Tea Party rally held at a Milwaukee County park, and that the park logo was on the banner proudly announcing the rally. It doesn't really matter which front group sponsored it. But the request for information from the official unofficial campaign blog for Scott Walker [], which all information available points to Darlene Wink of being a contributor, was directed to Wink. Then when Walker's spokeswoman supplied her answer, it immediately appeared on the blogsite. And this once mystery group was able to get the requested information and pay the obscenely overcharges that Walker would charge an average citizen.

So to summarize the summary, Walker was already playing up to the Koch Brothers using County property. To keep this relationship and overreach of his powers from receiving too much attention, he and his politically appointed cronies would give incomplete and/or inaccurate information, often at overly inflated prices, to those who did not support him. But if it was an ally (or one of his own staff) the restrictions magically lifted and accurate information was presented promptly and at very low price, if not for free.

Are you starting to see the pattern yet?

The actual url of the site was interesting in itself: It does make one think it was a campaign site, doesn't it?
Well, and given that is also mentioned in the criminal complaint as another domain name improperly paid for by Russell's little non-profit, yes it does.

I also have seen the WTMJ crowd trying to spin Walker as some kind of honorable person because his Milwaukee County administration helped blow the whistle on Kavanaugh (a real POS who stole cash from organizations that helped the families of killed and wounded veterans, all to cover up massive debt he and his wife had accumulated). Darlene Wink was ordered by Walker to send cash to Kavanaugh's organization from Operation Freedom in 2006, and Kav was supposed to run the expenses appropriately. Then the money was first discovered missing back in 2008, when Walker Chief of Staff Tom Nardelli was informed the Zoo was never paid for the 2007 Operation Freedom event, and asked Kavanaugh about where the money went in "on numerous occasions" in 2008 and 2009. Shortly afterward, Nardelli spoke to the Milwaukee County DA, and indicated that Kavanaugh's organization owed Operation Freedom about $11,000 in cash.

Remarkably, Kavanaugh was still allowed on the scene at the 2010 Operation Freedom , and this article features great stuff from him, Tim Russell, and the recently-resigned Darlene Wink. In the article, Russell is shrugging and saying it could be "bookkeeping errors" explaining the missing money, when the criminal complaint says he had already stolen thousands from Operation Freedom earlier in the year! These people have no shame whatsoever- high-characters hires by Walker, to be sure. If Walker knew about the fact that Russell and Kavanaugh were stealing money from Operation Freedom, why in the world were they hanging around the event in June 2010 while Walker was campaigning for governor?

The Milwaukee County DA didn't file charges after talking with several others in 2011 to gather evidence...including Darlene Wink in November 2011. So it seems like they used some information and interviews from their Walker campaign corruption case to put details together on how the Operation Freedom money was allegedly stolen by Kavanaugh, and it was enough to nail him on it.

Also interesting is to see that the donators to "Operation Freedom" happen to be a whole lot of Milwaukee businesspeople, as well as future U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and the Republican Party of Milwaukee County, but I'll give that a pass, as it may just be coincidence...for now. Because what you can't ignore is that if Walker's Number 2 in the office was running this organization, how do we know that he spent money on more than just himself, and what other similar "third-party" organizations was he funneling money through?

Remember, the one guy who blew the whistle on missing money for Operation Freedom was Tom Nardelli, and what did Nardelli do when Walker got elected governor? He followed Walker to Madison in late July, but then quit his $90,000 a year state job a few days later, right as the John Doe investigation was heating up. I'm not saying I know why, but you think it might be possible Nardelli knew a bit too much about where the money from Operation Freedom and other 3rd Party Walker organizations was REALLY going to? (I could be hired on Fox with that type of question, couldn't I?)

It seems quite clear that in the process of discovering the usage of money-funneling schemes by the Walker campaign, Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm came upon these clear thefts by Russell and Kavanaugh, as well as the child enticement Russell's partner tried to pull, and got these charges on the record as early as he could. Much of the criminal complaint mentions that these revelations come "as part of the John Doe investigation", and Chisholm clearly signaled today that there was a lot more they were still looking into connected to the case. Notice that Cindy Archer never gets mentioned in this incident, despite the fact that she was higher up the chain than Russell, and had to be privy to what was happening with items like Operation Freedom. That tells you the fun is only starting here, as much as the Walker whiners don't want to believe it, and it's only going to get bigger and more direct as the next few months go on.


  1. Thanks for this informative post. A couple of things I want to know more about; does Mark Block (campaign advisor to Koch brother-from-another-mother Herman Cain) have a history with Russell or Kavanaugh? Apparently some of the embezzled money was used to visit Block. Weren't there other cases of right-wing media figures using veterans charities to fund right-wing causes? Just wondering if this was a part of a national GOP effort. What's the connection with right-wing media? I think Wagner and Sykes of Milwaukee media were co-sponsors of the Zoo event every year.

  2. DQ- My article was already running long, which is why I didn't mention Russell's trip to the ATL to meet with Mark 'Banned from Wisconsin politics' Block and Herman 'Koch' Cain, but it's quite an interesting connection, eh?

    I got a feeling an easy Open Records Request could shine a light on Sykes' and Wagner's shilling for this governor, but I'm betting their part in Operation Freedom is nothing more than a WTMJ 'Support the Troops' PR move, which is cool with me.